It’s Not Easy Being Green. Or Honest.

How much weight does the word “organic” hold when it comes your purchasing decisions? Do you place more value—monetary or otherwise—on organic clothing? Food? How about beauty products?

We only ask because 26 cosmetic companies making “organic” products are facing a lawsuit from the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health for using the word without the certifications. The companies (the full list can be found HERE) may be in violation of a California law requiring products carrying the organic label to be at least 70% organic ingredients. Attention, shoppers: Now that you know, would you still buy the products?

If found guilty, the companies involved will have more than just legal problems. First of all, if they’re stripped of the organic label, they’ll be unable to fulfill their female consumers’ Good Intentions. Because how convenient is it that the products you love are also organic, and therefore less damaging to the environment? Organic beauty products make it easy to be green-ish.

Also, women love empathetic companies. They love companies that understand them, that enable them to both save the planet and have a flawless complexion. But if it’s found that any or all of these companies—whose products have been tested by the Center and found wanting—aren’t living up to their claims and are in fact lying to their consumers, said consumers will feel targeted, manipulated, and disinclined to keep buying.

Honesty gains a lot of ground with female consumers, but deceit loses much more. Let’s hope, for the sake of brand loyalists everywhere, that honest trumps organic.

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Sales Show Women Are Only Green-ish

Okay, we will try not to rub it in. But after four years of predicting that women were more ‘greenish’ than green and that they will only buy green if it’s as convenient, effective and equally priced to conventional products, we get to say, “I told you so.”

In today’s New York Times article “As Consumers Cut Spending, ‘Green’ Products Lose Allure,”  sales on everything from kitchen counter cleaners to hybrid cars are sinking because the penny-pinching consumer would rather save money than contribute to a cause. While there’s an affluent core of advocates who are still fueling the growth of the smaller brands like Method or Seventh Generations, mass brands have met their match in today’s mass female consumer.

We don’t mean to say that women don’t want to save the environment or live in a more holistic, organic, healthy way, but in this economy, women are running households with every bit of ingenuity they can muster. Cutting pennies adds up and even though she got that original glow from displaying her Clorox Greenworks cred, she can’t justify the markup anymore. And even though Clorox has reduced prices, women continue to make choices that feel right for their households.

We identified this “greenish” trend in What She’s Not Telling You as the Half Truth of Ego Protection. Sure, she likes to feel that she comes off as a conscientious person, but underneath, she’s got to draw the line somewhere. Consultants and pundits who are preaching at conferences and corporations, painting the entire female population green, are misleading marketers to overdeliver on what is a Half Truth among women. Sure, we are growing our green consciousness…but take it one step at a time or find yourself buried.

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Go Green(er): Odwalla And Dasani Make Plastic Eco-Friendly With PlantBottle

We talk a lot about living “green-ish,” and the balance it strikes between modern convenience and assuaging our overactive ecological consciences. Therefore, we love products that make it even easier for us to live the “ish” life. The latest? PlantBottles.

Unfortunately neither leaf-shaped nor growing in your backyard, PlantBottles are the first 100% recyclable bottles. Both Dasani and Odwalla are now using versions of the leafy container—PET plastic for Dasani, HDPE for Odwalla. Let’s not get too technical though—the bottles are created using a large proportion of plant materials and consequently may now hold court with the insipidly virtuous Sigg.

While PlantBottles have been around since 2009, the heavy marketing we expect to see from Coca-Cola for its high-profile products this April will certainly up their public profile. Reportedly, PlantBottles are already estimated to have eliminated the massive carbon dioxide output from three million gallons of gasoline usually used in bottle production, with only more reductions to come.

They’re eco-friendly, convenient, and absurdly green-ish. But one question remains: After purchasing your bottle of water, toting it to your meetings, and spilling half of it into your purse, will you actually recycle it?

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Going Green Is Great, But Will It Lead To Sales?

Half Truth: “Green-ness” is a crucial factor when women consider purchasing products.

Whole Truth: “Green-ness” is secondary–it’s more important that a product work well than benefit the environment.

Thanks to the strength of their convictions, women often make marketers think trends are bigger than they are. The green trend, for example, is a case of women being selectively honest. Women will spout their green credentials effortlessly because it presents them as more conscientious consumers. ‘I only buy organic.’ ‘My home is healthier because of green products.’ Saying you’re exclusively green or that you are scrupulously earth conscious is accurate for some, but we have found it’s claimed more often than it’s true. Women know that green is good and waste is bad, so after adopting a green behavior or two, they will start to talk as if they’re actually growing their dinner and recycling the plates, even if their only green gesture is a bottle of Method tile spray in the shower.

We don’t mean to underestimate the power of the green movement and the growing number of consumers who try to make choices that sustain the planet. Niche, squeaky green brands like Seventh Generation have penetrated the cleaning aisles of the biggest chains. But mass brands like Clorox Greenworks cleaned up by offering a dose of feel-good green clean with the silent but mighty hero name of Clorox to assure germ killing. By securing the imprimatur of the Sierra Club and others, the brand has managed to tread the narrow line between green and effective. And we’ve heard that many women are displaying their Greenworks products on their countertops, a giveaway to their badge value.

Green, organic, natural, locally grown, no matter what the language, intent to purchase is often overturned when pricing comes up. Our take on the Whole Truth? She’s ‘green-ish’ and can be more practical than purist. Women are still figuring out their green ground rules. Be careful that you don’t assume that the green game she talks will end up as cash in the register at the end of the day.

Want to learn more about half and whole truths? This post is straight from our book, What She’s Not Telling You: Why Women Hide the Whole Truth and What Marketers Can Do About It. Read the first chapter online HERE, and grab a copy for yourself from Amazon.

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“Marketing Extraordinaire” Jen On Green Living, Whole Truths, And Winning

The internet is full of tips to make going green the easiest, most enjoyable, most socially responsible thing you’ll ever do. So why hasn’t everyone done it already? Jen has been all over the news lately, shedding light on the new consumer pattern of “greenish,” a more manageable version of the decidedly virtuous and increasingly attainable green lifestyle.

In an interview for Green Prophet, Jen notes that the pattern of “greenish” behavior on part of the consumer is a result of perception, availability, and cost. From her interview:

You note that one of the solutions is to become “greenish.” Can you explain this to our readers?

I wouldn’t say being Green-ish is a solution but rather that it is an inevitable truth for real women living in a real world.  Women want to do the right thing by their families and their environment but have to make daily compromises because of their financial resources.  Green products generally cost more so women will prioritize the areas in her life where they are the most important.

What, in your opinion, is so hard about going “green”? Is this a marketing failure? A government failure to provide adequate resources to make smarter choices, or is this good ol’ fashioned laziness?

I think it comes down to cost and quality.  Do organic cleansers work as well as the ones filled with chemicals? Not usually.  And even if they did Americans have been trained to associate the smell of products like bleach with cleanliness and with the absence of that sensory signal they doubt the efficacy of their green cleaners.

To read the rest of Jen’s interview at Green Prophet, CLICK HERE.

To read about why being greenish is a worthy goal, CLICK HERE.

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Going Green is Getting Easier

Women have been telling us for awhile now that they would like to be more socially and environmentally responsible. They have the best of intentions but as we’ve mentioned before, most women are going “Greenish”.  Most do what’s convenient and not too expensive and what works best in their lives. (See our recent post on how Clorox has won with women trying to be more green)

While it’s great when consumers can take the first step in being more conscious of their actions (reusable bags, energy-efficient light bulbs, etc.), it’s even better when companies make it easy to be green and get us actually thinking about our actions. Here are three companies I’d like to give shout-outs to:

Brita and their “Responsible Water” Campaign. They remind you that a plastic water bottle will live forever in a landfill.   They’ve made me think about picking up a bottle of water on my way to a walk in the park vs filling my reusable BPA free container from my Brita pitcher.

Method’s new laundry detergent with smartclean technology is the world’s first Cradle to Cradle certified laundry detergent.  Its environmentally-intelligent design has me rethinking the heavy jug I get at Costco each month.

And lastly, SunChip’s creation of the first 100% compostable chip package which debuts Earth Day 2010 (Great commercial by Juniper Park!), will have consumer packaged goods companies scrambling to figure out how they too can make their packaging plantable.  

Companies are going to continue to take even more responsibility for making this a better planet which in turn will make it easier and more affordable for consumers to play their part.

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When Good Intentions and Ego Protection Collide: A Win for Clorox

Brand Week’s Elaine Wong reports today that consumer demand for new green products were weakened by the recession but that overall, sales of green cleaners are growing at a faster pace than their traditional counterpart.

It is no surprise to me that Clorox’s disinfecting products are giving the company healthy sales. First, you have women’s Good Intentions – In Chapter 3 of our new book, What’s She’s Not Telling You, we share the Half Truth that women want to be healthy – healthy bodies, healthy lives, healthy homes. But the Whole Truth is that while they have the best of intentions in keeping a healthy environment, sometimes the house only gets really clean when company is coming over.

Which leads us into Ego Protection (check out chapter 6!) – Sure, she says she wants to be green, but we have detected that women actually want to be “green-ish”. If it is going to take more time, money or energy, they’d prefer to skip the ‘au natural’ and opt for products like Clorox Green Works, which offer a dose of green while nodding to their strong germ killing brand heritage.

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August 5, 2020
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK

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The God Box Goes Global!

“The God Box” has grown to include an app, audio book, philanthropic venture and solo show performed by Mary Lou across the US. Now The God Box Project goes global to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
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